New Music for Old People: Beatlemaniacs

Comparatively obscure tracks that seriously emulate the Fab Four...

By , Columnist

Adrian Belew

This column is like the title says - its intention is to fill the gap for those of us who were satiated musically in the '60s and then searched desperately as we aged for music we could relate to and get the same buzz from nowadaze. iTunes was the answer for me in 2003 and I have been following the new releases every Tuesday ever since I realized there was an endless stream of music I could enjoy there.

I also include older items that I felt were obscure originally and might not have been heard back then. The reason I am writing this column is to make sure others don't miss this wonderful music. These are not top ten items; but they SHOULD'VE been!

Below is a jukebox containing all the songs I picked this week. After you read about them below, go back and listen to whatever you like by just clicking on that title in the jukebox, or stream the whole playlist by clicking on the "play" icon at the top. It's free and it's the entire song. We're not selling anything. We're just in the business of hopefully making your days better by listening to great music.

TMR1202 by Lisa on Grooveshark

Beatlemaniacs

The object of this challenge was to unearth the best (in my opinion) Beatles-influenced tracks from all eras that most people have never heard before. When I finished all my searching and sequencing, I thought this would be a great record to put out. I’m too old for that sort of behavior nowadaze; but you can download and paste and voila — you’ll have your own personal copy!

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1. "One Track Mind" — The Knickerbockers (2:22)

This is a band that was current with The Beatles' first wave in the mid-'60s. Their biggest hit was “Lies” which was amazingly Beatle-esque. Not that this isn’t.

2. "Twice Upon a Time" — The Zinedines (3:11)

As far as I can tell this is a contemporary group from Spain and this track is from an album of theirs from 2010. So this band takes a retro look at The Beatles, but quite often, from what I’ve heard of their other work. They are playing a kind of music that started 50 years ago as their current music. These are truly Beatlemaniacs — this track has a few elements from “Ticket To Ride.”

3. "Get Your Mind Made Up" — The Flame (3:24)

This band was from South Africa and worshiped The Beatles. By chance, they were heard by Al Jardine and Carl Wilson from The Beach Boys, who took them under their wing and produced an album of The Flame’s extremely Beatle-sounding music. I always loved this album but, as usual, my copy got pretty worn. I downloaded the album from iTunes but their version contained COMPLETELY DIFFERENT MIXES and didn’t hold up to the LP version. So here it is from the worn LP, touched up a bit in my home studio just for y’all. Originally released in the early ‘70s.

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4. "Helping You Out" — Colours (2:43)

Another band that primarily made Beatle noises. This is their take on “Fixin’ A Hole,” and it’s pretty darn good work. This was originally released in the early '70s less than five years after Sgt. Pepper. Their best track has been in a past column, “Bad Day at Black Rock, Baby.” This is my second favorite of theirs; the object is to not repeat a track from an earlier column if possible. That would be helping you out.

5. "Towers of London" — XTC (3:42)

This band always reminds me of what the Beatles might sound like if they had stayed together and lived longer. Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding had many similar talents to Lennon and McCartney, especially for a fellow guitarist and bassist. This is one of my XTC faves, quite reminiscent of “Rain.”

6. "Going Quietly Mad" — Al Kooper (3:38)

This guy was REALLY Beatles-influenced on this one, specifically “Happiness Is A Warm Gun” and "Strawberry Fields." Technically I was trying out a Lennon trick of slowing the track down when I sang some of the vocal so that it had a higher timbre in certain places when you brought the track back to speed and then the opposite on the last two lines. Recorded in George Martin’s studio in the UK, featuring the amazing Herbie Flowers on bass, Barry Morgan on drums, and Caleb Quaye on the bassy lead guitar on the verses. I played all the other instruments and wrote it. I believe this came out in 1970. This is one of the few older tracks I did I can still stand listening to. I sit down for the others.

7. "Home" — Great Northern (3:11)

This is a current LA band; half men, half women, that is, two guys and two gals. Unusual gender lineup considering the sound is Beatles emulative. Well done production in the George Martin style. Gals play bass and keyboards and guys play guitar and drums respectively. Without knowing the lineup at first, never thought there were women aboard from just the vocals. Great on headphones!

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8. "May 1st, 1990" — Adrian Belew (3:19)

Adrian is an amazing talent: songwriter, guitarist, vocalist, producer — way too much talent for one guy. It’s possible he performed all the playing and singing on this track. The chorus is really the Beatles part. But there are other subtle tributes sprinkled throughout. I think this came out in the late ‘90s.

9. "This Love Is True" — NRBQ (2:25)

In the bar band Hall of Fame, this band is is in the top ten. This sweet ballad has elements of “And I Love Her” and “Michelle.” A perfect recording of a wonderful tribute composition recorded in such a way that if you tilt your head the right way, it could be The Beatles. That’s the highest compliment I can pay this.

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10. "Not Just For the Dead" — KingsX (3:28)

This is a tribute to The Beatles' most advanced period including sitars and other elements from that exact era. So well done. Again I included their best performance, “It’s Love,” in an earlier column, but this is second by only a quarter of an inch. It leaves us fading out much in the way of the final Beatle recordings which fits the concept and makes for another week-ending perfect close. Just another day in the life. In some ways, this collection makes a lovely Beatles tribute album just as is. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did compiling it.

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Legendary musician (Bob Dylan, Blues Project, Super Session, Blood Sweat & Tears), producer (Lynyrd Skynyrd, Nils Lofgren, The Tubes) and author (Backstage Passes & Backstabbing Bastards), Al is happy to join the staff of The Morton Report in an effort to help his fellow listeners stay in tune!

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